Wiltshire Police Voluntary Cadets took part in their annual sleep out challenge to raise awareness and money for those who will be spending this winter without a place to call home.
Forty-five cadets aged 13-17 from the Swindon, Chippenham, Trowbridge and Salisbury units took part in the very wet sleep out on Friday 7 December at Police Headquarters, Devizes which has so far pledged £3279.58 for homeless charities in Wiltshire.
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson and Chief Constable Kier Pritchard joined the cadets to sleep out in the extreme weather conditions.
Mr Macpherson volunteers with the Filling Station charity in Swindon which offers a weekly soup kitchen service to over 50 people who are homeless or in a cycle of homelessness. The Filling Station is supported by Threshold who provides an outreach service and offer support to those who are experiencing homelessness.
Mr Macpherson said: “I was pleased to join the cadets on this annual sleep out to raise money and awareness for homeless charities and I am delighted at the amount of money that has been raised for the charity.
“The sleep out is a good opportunity for the cadets to experience what it is like to be homeless, but unlike many homeless young people this was something we only had to experience once before heading home to the warm.
“Opportunities like this are a great learning experience for our cadets. It helps them to understand others in our society and the challenges they may face.”
Threshold, The Doorway Project, The Breakthrough Trust and Alabare Christian Care and Support charities have been selected to benefit from the pledged money raised.
Newly appointed Cadet Co-ordinator Alison Creswell said, “I am very proud of the cadets for completing this challenge. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience. It was cold and extremely wet. Many of them didn’t get much sleep.”
“It is important for us to do something for others and doing the sleep out improves their awareness and knowledge about homelessness.
“It has taught them not to judge people because of the situation they find themselves in, a valuable skill to have both as a young person and an adult.
“This is the fourth annual sleep out for the Cadets. In total we will have pledged over £13600 to homeless charities in Swindon and Wiltshire, something all of our Cadets can feel very proud of.
“The sleep out could not have happened without the support on the night from 5 volunteers who drove the minibus and brought the cadets to and from HQ, but also the volunteers and staff who stayed overnight to watch over the cadets and ensure they were kept safe.”